Auburn’s pharmacy, nursing students team up to raise awareness for medication adherence

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Throughout the month of February, students from the Harrison School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing at Auburn University are teaming up to participate in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Challenge and raise awareness about the critical health issue.

Medication adherence simply means taking medication as directed by a health care professional. The challenge is aptly called Script Your Future because medication adherence is an important action patients can do themselves in taking control of their future health.

Auburn student pharmacists participated in the initial Script Your Future public awareness campaign in 2011, but this marks the first year nursing students joined the effort.

The team approach was a natural step for both schools since they started interprofessional education collaborations in the fall, and interprofessional initiatives are required of this year’s challenge. Since the fall semester, nursing students have accompanied pharmacy students on patient visits as part of the Pharmacy Practice Experience, or PPE, and pharmacy students have joined nursing students on community visits as part of the Population Health nursing course.

“Having nursing students in some of our PPE teams, visiting patients together, has not only been positively received and valued by our PPE patients, it has also provided a great learning opportunity for our students,” said Jan Kavookjian, an associate professor in the Harrison School of Pharmacy, who is coordinating this year’s challenge team. “We have learned much about each other’s missions, care provision and education structure; the Script Your Future endeavors provide additional opportunities for students to interact for a common goal – helping patients achieve positive health outcomes.”

“The purpose of interprofessional education is for students to gain experience in collaborating with each other while applying knowledge of their own role and valuing roles of each other to address health care needs of patients and populations served,” added Jenny Schuessler, associate dean in the School of Nursing. “For the challenge, students will be working together in various venues to stress the importance of medication adherence.”

Besides counseling the patients currently shared by pharmacy and nursing students, they have planned community outreach activities in the area:

  • Diabetes and Nutrition Center classes, Thursday, Feb. 14, at noon; Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 8:30 a.m.; and Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m., 500 E. Thomason Circle, Opelika.
  • Health fair at Bubba’s Medicine Shop, Thursday, Feb. 21, from noon to 5 p.m., 512 2nd Ave., Opelika.
  • East Alabama Medical Center’s Celebrate Life health fair, Friday, Feb. 22, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, 2027 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika.
  • Boykin Community Center, Monday, Feb. 25 at 10:50 a.m., 400 Boykin St., Auburn.
  • Face-to-face visits with local health care providers to deliver Script Your Future materials and encourage them to talk with their patients about medication adherence

Other events and initiatives are also being planned.

According to the National Consumers League and its partners behind the challenge, nearly three out of four Americans are not taking their medications as directed, which results in serious health consequences, especially for people with chronic diseases. It also costs the country nearly $300 billion a year in medical costs. More than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations and almost 125,000 deaths in the United States each year are attributed to people not taking their medicine as directed.

Medication adherence can lead to improved health and reduced total health care costs.

“One of the best hopes we have for changing our culture of non-adherence is to train the next generation of health care professionals to be proactive about engaging their patients, and that starts in the classroom through the innovation brought forward by health professions faculty,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumer League.

Winners of the challenge will be announced in the spring.

(Written by Amy Weaver)

Contact: Jan Kavookjian, Harrison School of Pharmacy, (334) 844-8301 (kavooja@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)